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Topps for 50 Years

by Paul Angilly
May 17, 2005

This season will mark the 50th consecutive year that Topps has produced a trading card set of professional football players. As part of a season-long celebration, the company will offer collectors the chance to purchase special packs of trading cards (during one weekend) for the price of a pack in 1956 -- a nickel.

Although the company offered few details, the weekend of Sept. 10-11 (the NFL’s Kick-Off weekend) has been designated by the company as "Topps Turn Back The Clock" weekend. On those two days, collectors will be able to walk into their local participating hobby shop and purchase a special pack of Topps 50th Anniversary trading cards for 5 cents.

The 2005 Topps set will be released on July 11. The 440-card base set will include three parallels -- Topps 50th Platinum, Gold and Black Bordered. For the inserts, "Throwbacks" fuses active players with classic Topps designs from the past 50 years, while "Golden Anniversary" includes the greatest football players from the past 50 years.

There will also be a number of autograph programs featuring players such as Joe Montana, Joe Namath and John Elway. Also, a 50th Anniversary Team has been named and each player has teamed with Topps to pen his signature to an exclusive inert set. Once again, Topps will offer its Super Bowl and Pro Bowl Relic Cards. Also, each box will include a commemorative 50th Anniversary card in Topps Tribute technology. Each 10-card pack of 2005 Topps will carry a $1.59 SRP.

Topps will introduce the "Card of the Week" as another 50th anniversary program.

The 17-week program will feature an all-new exclusive Topps 50th Anniversary 17-card set highlighting a different NFL superstar each week. During the 2005 NFL season, following "Turn Back the Clock" weekend, collectors can go back into their hobby shop and receive the Topps 50th Anniversary "Card of the Week" with the purchase of a pack of 2005 Topps or any other Topps football product.

Press Pass offers surprises: There’s at least a couple of nice surprises for UConn football fans in the recently-released 2005 Press Pass draft picks set.

The set includes former Huskies quarterback Dan Orlovsky (drafted by the Detroit Lions) in the base set and several inserts, which is no surprise. The surprise comes in the autographed insert set, which includes not only Orlovsky but former UConn teammate Keron Henry (signed as an undrafted free agent by the New Orleans Saints) as well. Henry is not included in the base set or any other insert.

Also, the Orlovsky autographed card is available both with his regular signature (a "D" and an "O" followed by a squiggle, with the "an" from "Dan" inside the "O") and signed as "Docky" -- a rare parallel with his nickname.

Here’s a list of the other Orlovsky cards available with the Press Pass set: base card (#7); a retail parallel (blue foil), reflector parallel (holofoil numbered to 500) and reflector proof parallel (holofoil numbered to 100); a "Big Numbers" insert (#BN 22/33); a "Paydirt" insert (#PD 6/12); and jersey cards (silver numbered to 300, gold numbered to 125 and holofoil numbered to 50).

Autograph cards from the set are available in three versions: bronze (unnumbered), silver (numbered to 200) and gold (numbered to 100).

Press Pass SE now available: Orlovsky and some of the bigger-name 2005 draft picks are also featured in the 2005 Press Pass SE (Signature Edition) set, which was released last week. The product includes one autograph or memorabilia card per pack, along with four other cards from a 40-card base set and assorted other inserts. There are an average of eight autographed cards and four jersey cards per 12-pack box.

Look for Orlovsky and others on serial-numbered game-worn jersey cards (including autographed jersey cards and jersey name cards numbered to 25 copies, plus jersey patch cards numbered to 10 copies), "Up Close" inserts, "Class of 2005" inserts (including serial-numbered autographed versions) and "Old School" inserts. The regular autographed cards found in the SE product appear to be identical to those found in the regular Press Pass brand this year.

Hottest card of 2005 -- Pope John Paul II: The Topps trading card company and Beckett Media each sent out press releases recently noting that Pope John Paul II’s card from the 2005 Topps World Treasures insert set, which features his actual signature, was sold for $8,100 by a California dealer to a collector there shortly after the pontiff’s death.

The sale is described in detail in the June edition of Beckett Baseball magazine, currently on newsstands.

"To put the sale into context, Barry Bonds, who is the most collected modern player, has never had a non-graded card sell for more than $1,200," Mike Payne, editor of Beckett Baseball, was quoted as saying in Beckett’s news release.

To date, the Pope’s card has generated the largest sum tracked for any of the 48 cards included in Topps’ 2005 World Treasures. The set features issues of historical figures complete with "cut signatures" (autographs cut from documents and incorporated into the card’s design). Among other world leaders included are Czar Paul I and King Frederick the Great, whose cards have sold for $3,050 and $3,000 respectively. Also included are Napoleon Bonaparte, Princess Diana, Robert F. Kennedy, Winston Churchill, Nelson Mandela and Mother Theresa.

The "World Treasures" cards were included in 2005 Topps Series 1 and a similar issue, "Power Brokers" signatures, are featured in the recently-released 2005 Topps Series 2.

Among the famous names included in the new "Power Brokers" set are: Andrew Carnegie, Branch Rickey, Bill Veeck, Charles Goodyear, Ed Sullivan, Helen Keller, Henry Kissinger, Jacqueline Kennedy, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Rockefeller, P.T. Barnum, Thomas A. Edison and Walter Cronkite.

About the author
Paul Angilly is a sports reporter for The Bristol Press in Connecticut, and has been collecting sports cards and memorabilia for 30 years. He is not a dealer, nor does he make a profit from buying and selling cards. His weekly sports card and memorabilia collecting column appears each week in The Bristol Press and several other daily newspapers in Connecticut.

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